“I’m lonely and frightened and sad,” Marie said. She pressed in against Bill who leaned against his butcher’s block. He let her press him and settled his arms around her so she was tight to him and they were cheek to cheek. As they stood there, he rubbed her back and stood patiently allowing her all the time she needed.

Not long after they’d settled themselves into one another, Bill noticed that Marie had started crying. He felt it first, felt the wet of her teardrops, so he moved his face to look at her.

“Ain’t my fault,” she said. “I give him anything he wants. I gave him kids. And I was faithful too, all the way till one of his girlfriends embarrassed me out in public. Then he just denied it and denied it. But it was true. Till then I lied to myself. I told myself he wasn’t cheating. But he was.”

Bill held her even tighter than they were. He couldn’t help but be aroused, but he made no moves on her sexually and he hoped she didn’t make any moves on him or make any demands either. He had no idea what to say, so he simply said “It’s all right. Go ahead and cry.”

“I ain’t crying about him. I’m crying for the way my life turned out. I’m stuck with two kids and a man who don’t love me who messes around on me all the time.”

“That why you started with Henry Lee?”

“That was a accident. I wasn’t looking for nothing. He just caught me when I was changing one day and he said something and I felt pretty again. So I let him look at me, then touch me and then we were doing things that felt pretty good and didn’t seem so bad given my circumstances.”

Marie stepped away from Bill. She didn’t bother to cover herself when she walked over to the towel drawer and took herself a clean kitchen towel. After she’d wiped her face, she stepped back toward Bill, helped herself to a drink of bourbon, then took his hand in hers and led it over her body.

This was something they’d done before. This was something Bill had not minded and did not mind now. So he let her lead him, guide him to exactly where she wanted his fingers which was under her dress and around her so he held her bare back and could rub it. As he rubbed her back, she kissed him once on the lips and asked him to hold her some more.

“You got any Quaaludes?” she asked.

“I do. But I ain’t giving you any if you’re driving home”

“I’m planning on driving home. And pretty soon too.

“Then I’ll give you some speed. And I’ll follow you to make sure you get home.”

“That would be great.”

Marie reached down to Bill’s kitchen pants and unbuttoned the fly. Bill did not stop her, but when she started to reach inside he asked her not to. He told her it was better if they just hugged for awhile then changed then left.

He held her, rubbed her back. She pressed against him, moved against him down there even though she could not feel him bare against her. She kissed him some, soft kisses that were sweet and almost romantic. In fact, it was downright sensual, so sensual that Bill heard Marie moan, not once but several times.

“You don’t know how nice this feels,” she said. “You don’t know what you’re doing to me.”

“You gonna tell me?”

“You really want me to?”

“Do I?”

“Don’t you already know?”

“Pretty much,” said Bill.

“Then maybe we’d better just finish this and let ourselves enjoy it.”

“Not here,” said Bill.

“Right here,” said Marie.

Again she reached inside Bill’s now-unbuttoned fly. This time Bill did not stop her.

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